Birs Eye Iglo supports IFFO fishmeal and fish oil certification

January 18, 2011 10:50

What do international frozen seafood brand leader Birds Eye Iglo (BEI) and the global trade organisation for fishmeal manufacturers have in common?

The answer is that both wish to be part of a fully verified responsible aquaculture value chain, with the final purpose of reassuring consumers, reports with reference to International Fishmeal and Fish oil Organisation.  

Fish feed and branded seafood for consumers may be at opposite ends of the farmed seafood value chain. But both organisations know that public, government and NGO scrutiny is focused on aquaculture as it overtakes wild caught fish as the supplier of the majority of the world's seafood.

The International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation (IFFO) represents the majority of the world's producers of fishmeal and fish oil, which are key natural and healthy ingredients in feeds for farmed fish. BEI has $1.6 billion sales of caught and farmed seafood to consumers under the Birds Eye and Iglo brands, with an increasing proportion coming from aquaculture.

In 2008/9 IFFO Director General Jonathan Shepherd was looking for the best route to demonstrate responsible, safe and sustainable sourcing and supply of fishmeal and fish oil. More than a quarter of the global fish catch, about 16 M tonnes per annum, plus about 5 M tonnes of fish processing trimmings, provide the raw material for an annual global output of 5 million tonnes of fishmeal and 1 million tonnes of fish oil. Most is destined for fish feed and farm animal feed, but fish oil is also the predominant source of the healthiest omega-3 oils for human consumption, mainly as capsules.

Peter Hajipieris of BEI, as part of its overall Forever Food Programme, wanted to reassure consumers of Birds Eye and Iglo seafood of the provenance of all inputs into aquaculture - including the fishmeal and fish oil used in farmed fish feed. As part of this process, BEI was committed to buying only certified fish by 2012.

Hajipieris, who is Chief Technical, Sustainability & External Affairs Officer of BEI, urged IFFO to proceed with an independently audited certification scheme, taking a business-to-business approach, as opposed to creating another consumer eco-label. If all its supply chain could demonstrate responsible practices to BEI, it could then mark its packaging with a single ‘responsibly produced' logo. Hajipieris proposed a framework for the IFFO scheme and became the first member of the multi-stakeholder committee (including NGOs, fish farmers, retailers and wholesalers), which developed the Standard for fishmeal and fish oil certification.

The ensuing IFFO certification programme, known as IFFO-RS, was launched in October 2009. By the end of 2010 more than 20 per cent of global fishmeal and fish oil capacity had been independently audited as responsibly sourced and responsibly produced and can carry the IFFO Assured label - a remarkable rate of progress.

Hajipieris has travelled the world encouraging all stakeholders in aquaculture to play their part in establishing a fully responsible farmed seafood supply chain, and as an advocate of aquaculture's potential to meet consumer demands for consistent, safe, tasty seafood with responsible provenance. He was a keynote speaker at IFFO's Annual Conference 2010, held in Beijing last October.

But in December it was IFFO Director General, Jonathan Shepherd, who came to Hajipieris or, more exactly, to a main board meeting of BEI at its head office at Feltham, near London. To mark his considerable contribution to IFFO and the Responsible Supply standard, Shepherd presented Hajipieris with an engraved bowl.

Shepherd said: "We in IFFO appreciate all that Peter has done to ensure the IFFO-RS was established as a rigorous international standard, accepted by the value chain."

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